For the 17th year, MIT's lecture halls and laboratories are being infiltrated by science journalists.
Ten newspaper and magazine writers and television producers -- all selected by the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships program -- are on campus, spending a sabbatical year away from their regular jobs and working to gain deeper familiarity with science and technology. Seven are Americans and one each is from India, Switzerland and Korea.
The 1999-2000 class of Knight Fellows will be introduced to the MIT community at a reception Wednesday, Sept. 22 from 4-6pm in the Bush Room (10-110). President Charles M. Vest will speak at the reception, which is sponsored jointly by the MIT News Office and Technology Review magazine.
This year's Knight Fellows are:
- Â David Chandler, who has covered physical sciences for the Boston Globe for 15 years.
- Â W. Wayt Gibbs, a senior writer for Scientific American, who says he has covered 23 disciplines in science and engineering for the magazine.
- Â Karen Hopkin, a freelancer who has a PhD in biochemistry and writes for various magazines and web sites.
- Â Susan K. Lewis, a writer, director and producer for WGBH's long-running Nova science series.
- Â Ganapati S. Mudur, who covers science and medicine for the Telegraph, a leading Calcutta daily newspaper.
- Â Melissa Schorr, who covered health issues for the Las Vegas Sun and writes about women's health for various magazines.
- Â Andreas Schriber, a producer and editor of science and environmental programs for Swiss Television DRS.
- Â DongHo Shin, chief science writer for the Hankyoreh, a major daily newspaper in Seoul. Shin became a Knight Fellow last January and will continue through the fall semester.
- Â Peter N. Spotts, who covers science and technology for the Christian Science Monitor.
- Â David Talbot, a reporter for the Boston Herald who specializes in investigative stories that focus on environmental hazards.
Knight Fellowships, funded chiefly by an endowment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, are designed to improve the quality of science journalism in the mass media by offering experienced reporters the opportunity to take courses at MIT for a full academic year.
"When science reporters are doing their regular jobs, they rarely have time to learn more than the minimum needed to write the story of the moment," says Boyce Rensberger, the program's director. "So they often miss the background, the context, the process of science that's needed to give perspective. That's what these fellowships provide. The vast majority of the 162 science writers who have been in the program since it began have told us that the year made a huge difference in the quality of their work."
Mr. Rensberger, who was a full-time science journalist for 32 years, mainly at the Washington Post and the New York Times, took over the Knight directorship last year upon the retirement of Victor K. McElheny, who created the program in 1983. Martha Henry is the program coordinator.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 22, 1999.